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Scand J Public Health. 2010 Jul;38(5):548-52. doi: 10.1177/1403494810371250. Epub 2010 May 19.

Prevalence of sunburn and sun-related behaviour in the Danish population: a cross-sectional study.

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Department of Prevention and Documentation, Danish Cancer Society, Strandboulevarden, Denmark.



In Denmark, the incidence of melanoma has been increasing since the 1960s. Intermittent exposure to ultraviolet radiation and a history of sunburn and sunbed use are known risk factors. We describe the association between use of protective measures, sun-related behaviour and experience of sunburn in the Danish population three months after the start of the campaign.


A population-based sample of 3,499 persons aged 15-59 years completed a questionnaire that included items on exposure to ultraviolet radiation. We examined the relations between sunburn and sun-related behaviour by logistic regression analysis.


Within the previous 12 months, 35% of the study population had experienced sunburn. Sunburn became less frequent with age (odds ratio (OR) 4.44; 15-19 vs. 50-59) and skin type (OR 2.57; I vs. III). Sunburn was negatively associated with shade and clothing and positively with use of sunscreens. We found no significant difference in sunscreen use between intentional tanners who experienced sunburn and those who did not. A larger fraction of unintentional tanners with sunburn than those who were not sunburnt had used sunscreen. Sunscreen was used to prolong the time spent in the sun by 66% of sunburnt people; however, we found no association between duration of sun exposure and sunscreen use.


Future campaigns to reduce the prevalence of sunburn in the Danish population must especially target young persons and intentional tanning, and they should emphasize that sunscreen cannot be used to extend the time spent in the sun and that shade and clothing provide the best protection against sunburn.

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